By Sara Calabro
When Matt Hale learned about the results people were getting from acupuncture, his business instinct kicked in. As a founding member of the management team at The Joint Chiropractic, a network of more than 370 chiropractic franchise locations, Hale knows a thing or two about bringing wellness to the masses. In acupuncture, he saw an opportunity to enter what he considers to be an underserved market.
Hale, along with co-founder Stephen Gubernick, a chiropractor who’s certified in acupuncture, recently launched Modern Acupuncture, the first acupuncture franchise. Modern Acupuncture clinics will offer 30-minute community-style treatments by licensed acupuncturists. Walk-ins are welcome for $59, but the better deal is the $69 monthly membership, which gets you two sessions a month and a discount on any additional sessions. The first Modern Acupuncture clinic is now open in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the company is projecting 150 locations by 2020.
I caught up with Hale about the creation of Modern Acupuncture, how it differs from the current acupuncture model, and his vision for improving access to acupuncture.
AcuTake: Where did you get the idea for Modern Acupuncture?
Matt Hale: The idea came when Steve [Gubernick] called me, about eight months ago, and said he had been referring a lot of people to acupuncture. He told me how whenever he sent patients there, they’d come back reporting phenomenal results. The more research I did and conversations I had about acupuncture, I saw a good business that could help a lot of people. The acupuncture space is underserved—there’s not a lot of education out there about the results it can produce, and it’s not very accessible. We set out to develop a model that’s affordable and approachable, similar to what we did with The Joint.
How will Modern Acupuncture improve access to acupuncture?
When I started looking at this, I realized there is a scarcity of acupuncturists. From the standpoint of daily traffic patterns, you see doctors and chiropractors everywhere, but it is more difficult to find acupuncturists. When you do find them, they’re often closed certain hours, or only open certain days of the week. Our focus is on convenience. We are open a minimum of 51 hours a week, including evenings and weekends. We are located in high-volume, high-traffic centers. We are listening to what the consumer wants, which is convenience and affordability.
How much do treatments cost at Modern Acupuncture?
We break down our prices into essential acupuncture—for addressing issues like chronic pain, stress, allergies, sleep, and headaches—and cosmetic acupuncture. All prices are detailed on our website. Our goal is to promote better quality of life with ongoing care, which is why the membership model works so well in this space. It becomes realistic for someone to incorporate acupuncture as part of their lifestyle.
Modern Acupuncture clinics treat clients in a group setting. How is this different from the community acupuncture model?
We are similar to the community model, but we wanted to elevate the experience in terms of decor and create more of a spa-like environment. We’re also a little different from a location standpoint. We are going into shopping centers in order to piggy back on people’s traffic patterns. If someone is going to their grocery store or local Starbucks, Modern Acupuncture creates an opportunity for them to come in for acupuncture on the same trip. A final difference is that we’re standardizing the care so that people get a consistent acupuncture experience across Modern Acupuncture clinics.
So, will acupuncturists use protocols, or will they have autonomy in determining treatments?
We don’t have a playbook or recipe book for how everybody is treated. Acupuncturists will be using protocols, but it ultimately falls to them to determine the best treatment. All licensed acupuncturists have gone through their own specialized training in school, and they come out with certain techniques based on where they trained. When an acupuncturist is hired at Modern Acupuncture, they’ll go through additional training with us—we’re creating education for every licensed acupuncturist who comes on board by partnering with Bob Doane, an acupuncturist with over 25 years of experience. The goal is to enhance what acupuncturists have already learned in school and through clinical practice.
Why is Modern Acupuncture good for the overall acupuncture market?
I want to elevate acupuncture as a whole. Modern Acupuncture is going to make acupuncture better known and more accessible throughout the country. I would love to partner with acupuncture schools and associations to have a feeder system that provides jobs for licensed acupuncturists. It can be very challenging to get out of school and open a business. This provides a new career option for acupuncturists.
How will acupuncturists be compensated?
Franchisees wholly own their business, so compensation will be up to them. How much acupuncturists make will depend on how well the clinic is doing—the speed at which it grows, the quality of the care that’s provided, and so on. The details are still being worked out on this, but we will help franchisees set up compensation goals and objectives. The plan is to offer acupuncturists a salary-plus-bonus structure, with incentives for patient retention. In a couple years, there will be licensed acupuncturists making six figures with Modern Acupuncture.
Do you have to be an acupuncturist to be a franchise owner, or can anyone invest?
You don’t have to be an acupuncturist to be a franchisee, however all franchise owners are required to hire only licensed acupuncturists. I would love it if we had acupuncturists become franchise owners. It would make us that much better.
Photos courtesy of Modern Acupuncture
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